aithne: (boone nine months)
Boone loves to shred paper. A couple of nights ago, I was working at my computer when I heard Boone come in. He dropped something on his dog bed and settled down.

I turned to look...

...and it was NOT one of his toys, like it often is. He was happily shredding a paperback. One of Bryan's, to be exact.

Boone doesn't often destroy things; he's got a much softer mouth than Pip, and he's not so aggressive about needing entertainment. But he has his moments.
aithne: (boone nine months)
We've done a lot of training stuff with Boone and Pip; the approach those who've taught us has been most traditional positive/aversive training, with corrections when needed and food and praise and affection as rewards. This mostly works. However, Boone turns out to be a very reactive dog. He overreacts to certain stimuli--in his case, it's people at the door, dogs when he's on leash and can't go greet them, and a few other things.

In the case of other dogs, it's a very WOO HOO I LOSE MY MIND! reaction. He wants so badly to rush over and greet the other dog that he ends up lunging, barking, and making very weird noises. Speaking to him doesn't distract him, neither does correcting him. He is in OMG WANT headspace so deeply that he literally doesn't see, hear, or smell anything else. As soon as he's allowed to greet the other dog, (or if I pick him up and turn him so he can't see the other dog) he snaps back into his normal headspace.

This calls for a different approach. I've been doing a lot of reading, and everything I've seen has recommended clicker training for dogs who need to learn self-control and focus. Boone literally needs to learn how to control his unmanageable reactions, and for that he needs to learn alternate associations and behaviors to go along with the sight of other dogs. He needs to learn to look at another dog and then break the stare, since the escalating stare is the thing that allows him to go into the "lost my mind" headspace.

So the first game we are playing is called Yummy Clicker, which is the "loading" technique to create an association between the sound of the clicker and a high-value treat. It's worked startlingly well--once I have the clicker in my hand, Boone's attention is on me and only me for several minutes, even if I don't use it. He is convinced that the clicker dispenses treats. This means I can use the sound of the clicker to mark behavior I want to reinforce.

So the next phase is teaching him to target, or touch an object or a human hand with his nose. After that, we get to start learning some games like Look At That!, There's A Dog In My Face (and There's A Human/Child/Cat In My Face), and I Have Arrived In A Limousine (which is all about being calm after getting out of the car).

I'm hoping that this will help him learn to focus, and help us be able to walk around other dogs a lot better. Might take us a few months, but we'll get there.
aithne: (Default)

big grin
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
I uploaded a few dog pictures this weekend; this is my favorite of Boone, who is posing like the happy boy he is. I've been working on getting back into running, and have been taking both the dogs with me when I go out. Boone loves to run, so very much. He's built for both speed and distance and has a ground-eating lope with a stride length that just about matches mine.

Pip's been coming along, and will be until I graduate from running 90 seconds at a time to 5 minutes. Pip is a born sprinter, and it's hard for her to remember that we are running together, not playing chase. She does settle down at about the mile point, when her initial energy is worked off. I'm actually not worried about her balking when she gets tired or having to carry her. She's so game that I'm mostly worried about her hurting herself by trying to keep up with me on the longer stretches. Her stride is shorter than mine and Boone's, which means that compared to Boone she's expending more energy running than he is.

But for the moment, she comes along, and she loves it. We stop for potty breaks a few times per run, and the dogs run with their tongues flapping in the breeze, just happy to be alive and moving.
aithne: (boone nine months)

caught with his tongue out!
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
Other than that we have a couple of strange dogs. :)
aithne: (writing)
Editing proceeds apace. I continue to be astonished by my writing tics (apparently I am in love with the word apparently, argh) and I'm discovering that it's really hard to cut 20k words out of a 120k word book. The biggest places I'm able to cut are places where I condense conversations down into something a little zippier. Then I fret because oh gods I just eviscerated that conversation, am I sure I didn't take anything out that I'll need later?

I tell myself I have a copy of the previous draft and I can put it back if necessary, and move on.

Life continues to move forward; work is busy, home is busy, I'm traveling again in June, I'm still trying to find time to run and write. The dogs are doing exceedingly well in the class we're in currently; we're transitioning to controlled walking off-leash, and we're learning some new fun stuff.

Sometimes, we stumble across amusing things with the dogs. For instance, one of the commands we're teaching is "drop". Basically, what this means is that no matter what the dog is doing, he goes to his belly right in place.

One of the things you do is toss a cookie out, send the dog after it (Boone is so cute, he actually looks at me and waits for permission to go get the cookie; I guess the early training of "if I drop something you are not allowed to touch it until I say so" stuck) and then drop the dog when they grab the cookie.

Unfortunately, one of the commands we've taught the dogs is "drop it". So when I was first working on this with Boone, I would send him out, wait till he got the cookie, and then say "drop"...whereupon he would look at me and spit out the cookie.

Oops.

"Drop it" we're remapping as "mine" (as in "give me that, it's mine"). Boone has turned out to be pretty good at drops; we're going to start working on distance this week. In the end, I should be able to call him to me, call "drop" when he's halfway there, and have him immediately plunk himself down and not move until I get to him.

Now, if only I could convince him that he is not meant to be a guard dog, and that strangers aren't automatically evil, we'd be golden. Heh.
aithne: (Default)
Got my labs back from my most recent visit to my GP; I don't know when they started doing Vitamin D levels on everyone, but they checked mine and it was way, way low. I'd heard good things about Vitamin D supplementation, but figured it wasn't anything I needed really to worry about; come to find out that the symptoms of not having enough of it in your system are depression, mood swings, fatigue, sleep difficulties, and weight gain...all of which except the depression I've been having. Basically, it's what I tend to call Failure To Cope syndrome.

So it was off to the supplement store for Vitamin D for me, and I'm on a prescription dose once weekly and well as another dose daily for the next little while.

Note to locals: about 85% of us have very low vitamin D levels. Get yours checked.

Under the nice cut is a video of Boone and one of his weird habits: meowing at the cats. Trying to meow, anyway. It is short, but you do need sound.

Learning a second language is an ambitious project for a dog. )

one year

Apr. 13th, 2008 08:04 am
aithne: (boone nine months)
From this...

It's a big world, and I am very very small.

To this:

Boone

It's officially been a year since Boone arrived.

Happy anniversary, dog!
aithne: (camera)

looking to heaven
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
For the party the other night, we got some balloons. These are Mylar balloons, tied to ribbons with plastic weights at the end to keep them from floating off. Boone likes them--he enjoys picking up the weight and running around with the balloon floating behind him. It's extremely cute.

So I was making breakfast this morning, and Boone was playing with the balloon. (Pip was off eviscerating Yet Another Toy.) I wasn't paying much attention to what he was doing, other than occasionally making sure he wasn't attempting to eat the ribbon.

I'm finishing up with the eggs when I start hearing an odd noise, sort of a metallic rustling. I look around, then turn--and there is a purple metallic balloon right at nose level. It bops me gently on the cheek.

I manage to keep from shrieking by only a little and then burst into gales of laughter. Boone had brought the balloon over into the kitchen and dropped it behind me. The metallic noise was it brushing against my sweater.

Boone looked very pleased with himself.
aithne: (boone nine months)
I've been falling behind in my dog blogging duties!

I mentioned a little while ago that Boone was feeling under the weather. Turns out he has Addison's Disease, a fairly rare endocrine disorder that he is the wrong size, age, sex, and breed to get. Our dog is an overachiever!

Addison's is a very serious disease that can kill dogs if it's not caught early enough; fortunately, we have a good vet who took very vague symptoms and came up with the answer. Boone will need a shot every 30 days for the rest of his life and occasionally some supplemental prednisone (since he no longer makes some of his natural steroids) but other than that, he should live happy and healthy and long. It took him a couple of weeks to really bounce back from being sick, but he's on his second shot and he's feeling a lot better.

Otherwise, he's doing very well; he generally comes when called, he's learning how to sit for greetings, and he did brilliantly at the party this weekend. He's still not very good with children, but I think I see some signs of improvement on that front.

Pip is still a ball of fur and love. She is of the opinion that once she is lying on a human, she is completely absolved of any responsibility for anything. "Gravity?" she says. "Gravity is your problem now. You won't drop me. I know it." She goes limp and cuddly and it is very, very cute, which is a good thing as she has gone through a series of terrible adolescent phases. The list of things she has eaten and/or destroyed is long. I will be so glad when she finishes with the whole puppy thing!

We're in training class with both of them, and I think this time we'll go on and do the advanced obedience class as well.

(I think I had more, but this damn headache is kicking my butt. ow.)
aithne: (boone nine months)
Boone has been feeling under the weather for the last few days. He pretty much didn't eat this weekend, though he looked perfectly energetic and in fact spent an hour and a half on Saturday running around like a nut with a bunch of other dogs, and Sunday we went to another dog park and then for a three-mile walk.

I left Pip at home for Sunday's dog park adventure, because this was a new one and according to the Web site the entrances weren't gated. Pip, for all of her wonderful qualities, has kind of an issue with coming when called. As in, she doesn't unless she feels like it, and if there's something more interesting where she is (a stick, a ball, cat poop, air molecules), she doesn't feel like it.

We're working on it.

It turns out that the park would have been fine for Pip, since the entrances were pretty far away from the big open area all the dogs were in. And evidently, when we left without her, it was sob sob oh the misery they left me here BY MYSELF I'm so loooooooooonely! for a half hour. And when she was let out of the crate, the first thing she did was to run to the front window to make sure that Boone and I weren't hanging out in the front yard, just to fool her.

And Boone, at the dog park, ran around and sniffed and looked a bit intimidated by the huge romping dogs. In other words, he was acting perfectly normal. Sometimes he doesn't really eat for a couple of days; this is a dog who will never be fat, because he turns his nose up at food unless he's actually hungry. So we didn't worry about it much.

Then came Monday, and he was just...droopy. Ears lower than usual. Tail carried a bit low instead of curled over his back. Not coming to lick my legs when I got out of the shower. Pip said, Play with me! and he said Sorry, not feeling like it today. Which was worrisome enough, but when yesterday came and he was so droopy he was looking almost Phalene-like, it was time for a visit to the vet.

The vet poked and prodded him, tried to give him some of the Stinkiest Food In The World (Boone actually turned his back on the stinky food, but he's like that sometimes, doesn't accept food from strangers), and xrayed him. He thought there might be a blockage, and there was a suspicious area on the xray, but it was by no means conclusive.  And he was full of poop.  So he had been eating something.

This is hopefully the only time in this dog's life that I will be able to say to him, "I have SCIENTIFIC PROOF that you have to poop, dog!"

So I've been feeding him this laxative/lubricant stuff, and last night he ran around the back yard and did his thing, and this morning he's a lot perkier.  I had to coax him over, but he did come over and lick my legs after my shower.  And he had some breakfast, though he rooted around under the (expensive, good for him, made of freaking VENISON) canned food to eat the kibble underneath.  The dog, apparently, was constipated.  And doesn't really like his new food.

Argh.

Well, at least it wasn't serious.
aithne: (boone nine months)
Boone, at just over a year old, is starting to get to the point where he has a good idea of what he is and isn't supposed to do--but not doing things he's not supposed to do is hard, and he often gets himself into situations where he wants something but isn't sure what's going to work to get it. We joke that he has affirmation tapes that play in his crate at night. "Good dogs sit. Good dogs sit. I'm a good dog. Good dogs sit." If I have something in my hand that he reallllllly wants, he'll sit. Then lie down. Then come back up to a sit. "What's it going to take, lady? What do you want me to doooooo?"

He'll forget sometimes and jump up, and then just as quickly plunk himself back down with an air of, "Oops. Good dogs sit." Being a good dog is hard for a dog with as much energy as he has. It's very cute, and he really is learning. Pip, too, is making progress. Since learning she has bladder crystals and changing out her food, she's making swift progress on the housetraining front. I actually had the dogs up in my office the other night for two whole hours, and there were no pee spots on the rug when we were finished! Squee! (It takes so little to make me happy. Come when called, sit when told, don't bite people, and don't eliminate inside the house.)

Anyway, yesterday was playing with Photoshop and writing a little, today will be a little playing with Photoshop, a little housecleaning, a trip to a new coffee shop, and more writing. I hope, at least.
aithne: (camera)

Boone in a contemplative moment
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
I've been playing with Photoshop, learning how to get the sorts of pictures I want with digital wizardry, and this portrait of Boone really benefited from the treatment, I think.

We were on our way to the Meetup today, waiting for Laura to come back with coffee. He's such a pretty dog.

Also, I got a wireless shutter remote today! I am totally squeeing all over the place about this, I've wanted one since I got my big camera.

Back to playing with Photoshop!
aithne: (boone nine months)

I has a hat! Her name is Pip.
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
I think the st00pid-happy look on Boone's face really says it all.
aithne: (boone nine months)
SO pleased with the hounds right now. I just went for a walk with both of them, implemented Brilliant Idea (two leashes the same length, Humans Are Unstable lessons), and I suddenly had two dogs, both walking on loose leashes, with the least amount of rioting necessary, in a reasonable approximation of heel. (Boone a tiny bit ahead, Pip a bit behind.) They did almost everything right, including aforementioned loose leashes and minimum of rioting, as well as sitting before crossing roads. So, so pleased. Makes up for this morning's Puppy Riot in a big way. We even passed Big Barky Police Dog's yard without much fuss.

Very happy with puppies now. I have an errand to run, and they'll get to run around afterwards and then they and I will have a shower. Right now, I'm letting them run around the backyard and get filthy, because they deserve it.
aithne: (Default)

Boone sleeps upside down
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
Boone goes for the "all paws in the air!" prize.
aithne: (pip puppy)

puppies, sacked out
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
One seven-pound girl puppy + one twelve-pound boy puppy + a day's worth of rain + a mad dash inside like a speeding bullet + Kris sitting on the couch = HI LADY WE GET YOU ALL WET NOWS!

However, I managed to teach Pip that sitting down gets you treats, and I think she's learning her name.

This picture was taken last night after they had both sacked out in my office. Right now, it's World Puppy Federation Wrestling behind me.
aithne: (boone nine months)

Do Not Want.
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
We're trying to get a picture of Boone for Christmas cards, and bought him some silly outfits. We won't be using this one, but it is the absolute cutest of the batch.

Click through to see more!

Also, there are pictures from the dog meetup we went to today, if you need more dog pictures!
aithne: (Default)

play with me?
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
Taken just now as Boone was trying to get me to come play with him. He is now sacked out on his pillow, sleeping.

There's a couple more Boone pictures on my photostream.
aithne: (hiking)
We're back, and I have to say that Cougar Mountain was very nice. Trails were in good repair and very well-marked (as opposed to Tiger Mountain, which is...not). The road up to Anti-Aircraft Peak Trailhead is gravel, but well-maintained gravel.

There were a lot of blowdowns over the trails, but all the big ones had been dealt with with either cut steps or lowered tops. Boone didn't have any problems with any of them, seeming to regard jumping over them as fun.

I have to say that he's going to be a good trail dog. After the first mile or so, he falls right into either the heel position or trailing behind me far enough that he's not in danger from debris from my boots when the trail is too narrow to have him walk next to me. His only bad habit is "warning" me when other dogs get close. Gee, thank you, puppy.

Off for a shower now, I think.
aithne: (Default)

we're goin' for big walkies!
Originally uploaded by Nareshe.
Boone and I went for a hike on Tiger Mountain (he was so good!) and then we went to a small dog meetup, where there were other dogs to play with. Photos from both are on my photostream.

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